Monday, October 25, 2010

How to marry under The Special Marriage Act of 1954

DH and I were married under the Special Marriage Act because we are of different nationalities, and religions (DH being atheist...).

The requirements are :

  1. groom must be 21 years of age, and bride 18 years
  2. should be single
You need to find out who the marriage registrar is over the area you are living in, and one of you needs to have lived in that area for at least 30 days. You go to the registrar and tell them you want to get married (hopefully they have performed foreigner's marriages before like ours did, and knew what needed to be done). You will be given 2 pages (I think, I don't remember how many there were) in multiples of 3. You fill out all the pages and give them back to the registrar, and pay some fees. I believe we paid Rs 100 the first time. The copies of the fill out pages will be displayed in other areas, in case, your significant other finds him/herself already married.

At this time you will pick a date after 30, but within 90 days. You must also give :

  1. 3 copies of passport (for wife) or other form of ID for husband (voter ID, etc, if passport is not available)
  2. 3 copies of husband's address proof
  3. No objection certificate / proof of singleness which can be procured from your Embassy or before coming to India, provided your country will provide one with you. If your Embassy can not provide you with one, it is acceptable to get a letter drafted by a lawyer, with appropriate actions to make it notarized. Also, if you are a divorcee, your divorce papers will suffice in this area.
  4. Also, if you are baby-faced or really young, proof of age may be asked for.
After you pick the date, you arrive at the registrars office on the appointed date. Here you will fill out a few more papers, sign a few things, and then repeat a phrase, something along the lines that you say in church, about taking care of one in sickness and health, three times. You will also need to bring 3 witnesses who will also sign. Then pay your fees (we paid Rs 600, not including the previous Rs 100) as the fee for the marriage.

Now its time to celebrate!

It is also possible for the registrar to come to your marriage venue, which would have cost us around Rs 1000.

Then a month later you pick up your marriage certificate!


  1. Sounds like the process went fairly smoothly. ;) I look forward to hearing more of your story!

  2. @Meeka

    Yes it did, thankfully :) I will be sharing more of it soon!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this. In thinking about my marriage this winter, how we will register it has been something in the front of my mind for sure. There is lots of information on the internet about what different processes you can go through, but it's nice to hear directly from you about your experience. I'm still not sure which one we will choose, but I have faith that it will go smoothly.
    How long after you arrived in India did you get married?

  4. @Aman,

    I was in India for about a month before we got married. If you are hindu (well, both of the parties need to be) you can also be married under the Hindu Marriage act, but if you are from the US (from what I gathered from reading your blog) then you can also have a Arya Samaji ceremony ( but it looks like you would have to convert to Hinduism (so they say...). It was really quite easy, unless you get a crook of a registrar.

    The main thing is you should not need to hire a lawyer or an agent as they will just add more cost to the wedding. We did our own leg-work and got the registration done (after finding the marriage registrar information online) in 45 minutes. It only took less than 15 minutes to get the NOC (no-objection certificate) from the US Embassy in Delhi. Then the wedding took...30 minutes, and then lunch! =] Really quite simple if you know what you are doing.

    An excellent site that helped us immensely was :)